Gambia expresses concern over ‘Kush’ at world drug forum

Gambia expresses concern over ‘Kush’ at world drug forum

Bakary Gassama, the director general of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency The Gambia (DLEAG) has expressed concern on the use of ‘Kush’ – a drug substance which is reportedly affecting young people in West Africa.

“The Gambia is deeply concerned with rapid spread of the abuse of Kush (K2) in the West African region, leading to various health complications for abusers majority of whom are youth,” he said while speaking at the 67th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) Vienna, Austria.

The Gambia is being represented by DG Bakary Gassama and Lamin Gassama, the agency’s   director of Intelligence and International Cooperation where over 200 delegates are currently attending.

CND is mandated to review and analyse the global drug situation and takes action through resolutions and decisions. At this year’s CND forum, Member States will be discussing resolutions on rehabilitation and recovery management programmes; improving access and availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes; preventing and responding to drug overdoses; and alternative development.

The CND also decides, based on recommendations by the World Health Organisation and the International Narcotics Control Board, on which substances will be placed under international control –or “scheduled” – under the three international drug control treaties.

“Given the gravity of this problem, we invite the commission to consider the issue of Kush seriously. We further encourage the UNODC, INCB and WHO to urgently study the issue of Kush and advice national authorities accordingly on the most appropriate measure to mitigate its impact,” he said.

“The Gambia congratulates you on your election as chair and pledges its willingness to support you during your tenure. The Gambia commits itself to all multilateral efforts in the fight against drugs. The Gambia recognised the challenges facing the world in tackling the world drug problem with the unprecedented proliferation of synthetic drugs, thus affirm its commitment to the initiatives and efforts of the UNODC and in particular the CND to play its part in mitigating the impact of drugs on the global community.”

“Consistent with the spirit of the international drug control conventions, and bearing in mind that no one country can do it alone, The Gambia pursues a strategic international cooperation agenda. Since the Ministerial declaration in 2019, The Gambia has signed bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements with several countries geared towards strengthening our national drug control mechanism. These countries include; Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom Border Force,” Gassama stated.

“Currently, discussions are with the DEA of the United States, NCA of the United Kingdom, DCSA of Italy, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Brazilian National Police to sign international cooperation agreements.”

DG Gassama continues: “The Gambia has worked with Senegal in a number of joint investigations over the years. Furthermore, I am happy to report that following the seizure of close to 3 tons of cocaine at the Gambia Seaport in early 2021, UNODC through the CRIMJJUST Project facilitated several case forums between Gambia and Ecuador to support our joint investigation. Later today, The Gambia and Ecuador will host a joint press conference following the successful arrest of suspects in both countries.”

The Government of The Gambia, he went on, recognises the urgent need to adjust its approach to drug control.

“We are taking bold drives to balance strict law enforcement with effective demand and harm reduction measures. Concrete steps so far taken include legislative reforms to handle drug use as a matter of public health. We are therefore working to creating a system with greater flexibility for first time offenders for cannabis by introducing non-custodial sentencing such as community service and mentoring.”

The Gambia, therefore, invites partners to support in the effort towards establishing rehabilitation center to cater for the peculiar needs of drug users. This is a demonstration of the Gambia’s will and commitment to the implementation of drug laws that are guided by human rights considerations and comply with recommended international standards and best practices.

Source: The Point

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